by Kimberly Allen R.N.
Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is one of the neurodegenerative disorders that affects movement. PD is the second most commonly diagnosed neurodegenerative disorder, Alzheimer’s disease is the most commonly diagnosed neurodegenerative disorder. PD is more prevalent in the elderly with the average age of onset being around 60 years of age, though onset can be earlier. It is estimated that approximately 1in every 250 people over 40 years of age and 1 in 100 people 65 years or older. There is some disagreement as to whether or not PD is more common in men than women or if there’s no difference at all.
The brain cells that control movement require dopamine to function. In PD the cells that produce dopamine die, as these cells die there is less and less dopamine available for the other cells to use. Researchers have not discovered why the cells die. However, they have identified certain gene mutations that can cause PD. Other environmental factors have also been found to contribute to the development of PD. However, most people with pd have no known cause for their PD. Researchers have been focusing on specific clumps of protein called Lewy bodies that are markers for PD. Researchers believe that a natural protein in the Lewy bodies called A-synuclein holds the key to discovering the cause.
The symptoms of PD can vary from person to person abd early symptoms can be so mild they go unnoticed. Frequently the symptoms affect only one side of the body in the beginning but eventually spreads to both sides as the disease progresses. The most common symptoms of PD include, a tremor, usually the first symptom you’ll notice. Frequently you’ll see your hand tremor when it is at rest. Some notice their thumb and forefinger rub back and forth, this is called a “pill-rolling” tremor. Slowed movement known as bradykinesia. As PD progresses your ability to move slows, your steps get shorter and simple tasks take longer. Rigid muscles, as PD progresses you’ll start to notice some of your muscles get stiff. This stiffness can occur anywhere in your body causing decreased range of motion and pain. Impaired posture and balance, many sufferers of PD develop a stooped posture and balance difficulties. Loss of automatic movements, some people with pd lose their ability to perform those movements we all do without thinking about it like blinking or swinging your arms while walking. Speech changes, frequently people with PD notice they start hving problems with their speech as the disease progresses. The changes can vary from speaking softly in a mono tone voice to quick or slurred speech.
Though there is no cure for PD there are medications that can control the symptoms. There have been significant advances in medications and many of the newer ones have less side effects. There are other things you can do that will improve your quality of life with PD. The most important being lifestyle changes. Increase the foods high in antioxidants, while decreasing or avoiding food high in fat and refined sugars. The importance of exercise can not be over stated. Drs recommend aerobic exercise as well as including strength training and exercises that include stretching and balance.
Kimberly Allen is a registered nurse with an AND in nursing. She has worked in ACF, LCF and psychiatric facilities, although she spent most of her career as a home health expert. She is now a regular contributor to HealthAndFitnessTalk.com, dispensing advice and knowledge about medical issues and questions. You can reach her with any comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.